Picture: UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH BUSINESS SCHOOL
Picture: UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH BUSINESS SCHOOL

Investor interest in safer assets put pressure on the rand on Thursday, with the local currency pushing towards the psychologically important R14.50/$ level.

At 2pm, the rand was 0.44% weaker at R14.4391/$, having earlier reached R14.4945/$. It was 0.34% softer at R16.0840/€ and 0.27% weaker at R18.2498/£.

The rand has found some support from political developments this week, with ANC deputy president David Mabuza declining to take up the same position in the state executive until he has cleared himself of allegations of impropriety.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce his Cabinet on Sunday, and while analysts said the market was looking at the size of the cabinet and its composition, they noted that further developments regarding Eskom’s debt would be more likely to determine the currency’s direction.

Global risk-factors persist, and among the litany of events, the SA Reserve Bank will give its latest stance on monetary policy at 3pm, while ongoing European Parliament elections on Thursday offer the possibility of increased support for populist and eurosceptic politicians.

Rumours about an imminent resignation by UK Prime Minister Theresa May abound, while concern over the escalating US-China trade dispute have pushed both the JSE and Asian markets to a four-month low.

It is difficult to quantify the specific reason emerging markets are underperforming, but taken all together there is risk aversion, said Christian Maggio, chief emerging-market strategist at TD Securities.

For the rand, concern over Eskom’s debt restructuring continues to put pressure on the currency, said Maggio, while the composition of Ramaphosa’s next Cabinet is currently a short-term concern for the market.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za